Jan Neuspiel


Jan has been guiding and teaching for more than thirty five years all over the world with a particular focus on the Himalayan region for about half that time. There he spent six years living in Nepal (he speaks Nepali) and eleven years running a helicopter skiing operation in northern India. His personal expeditions have taken him on a skiing and climbing circumnavigation of Denali, a ski traverse of the Wrangle St. Elias, up Mount Asgard in the Canadian arctic and a solo summit on Pumori (7161m) in the Nepal Himalaya amongst other adventures. Back at home on Vancouver Island he’s guided most of the major island peaks (many of them multiple times), authored a number of first ascents and taught countless islanders rock climbing, mountaineering, backcountry skiing and avalanche skills. Since 2006 Jan has also been the Head Guide for Bella Coola Helisports' heliskiing operations in the Mount Waddington area of the BC Coast Range. Jan started Island Alpine Guides in 2006 and has nurtured it into the islands mountain school and guide service that it is today. Though he’s getting to be a little long in the tooth he intends to keep on sharing his love of the mountains with his students and guests for many years to come!

Ken Wylie

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Ken Wylie guides, coaches, speaks and writes about adventure. Certified internationally as a mountain guide with the International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations, Ken is widely recognized as one of Canada’s leading adventure education innovators developing programs for various social needs. Most recently, Ken has worked with men who are transitioning out of being homeless, offering journeys of connection and healing to men who have suffered deeply. This story is told in the CBC documentary 'The Weight we Carry'. He has guided around the world and held faculty positions at Thompson Rivers University and Mount Royal University in their respective outdoor programs. He is currently developing compelling programs for men that include practices that bring participants back to the 2500 year old mystical roots of western society.

Graeme White


Graeme’s love of the mountains and wilderness began at an early age camping with his family and exploring Western Canada and the Yukon. His own explorations continued across Western North America, South America, the UK and Africa. For sixteen years, Graeme worked with Outward Bound Canada, starting as an instructor and later as manager of their Western Canada operations. He also works with a Victoria area private school Outdoor Ed program, and fills the time between teaching and guiding with work as a carpenter. Graeme enjoys the combination of working and teaching in the mountains, coaching individuals towards the self reliance to do their own trips, or just making sure they have a great day out.

Jen Olson

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Jen is a professional climber, a former Canadian National Ice Climbing Team member and an ACMG/IFMGA mountain guide. Her background is varied; a teaching degree, cooking in a backcountry ski lodge, and being an air traffic controller are just some of the many things she has done in her career. Jen has participated in a number of climbing expeditions and climbing festivals. In 2007 she went to Pakistan and put up an all-women's first ascent in the Nangmah Valley. She's also participated in five first ascents of waterfall ice climbs in the remote Icefall Brooke region of the Canadian Rockies. Jen does a variety of work with Island Alpine Guides but we're especially excited to have her on board to lead our women's programs.

Andrew Councell


Andrew began climbing in 1998 along Colorado's Front Range and began guiding in 2004, both in Colorado and North Carolina. He is a member of both the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) and the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) and is an examiner for the former. A long-time Colorado resident, he now lives in Squamish and finds himself guiding in the Sea to Sky, the Central Coast and with IAG on Vancouver Island. Andrew's easy manner and quiet competence make him a great person to spend time in the mountains with.

Joe Schwartz

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Joe is a Kootenay-raised ACMG Ski Guide who is now based out of Cumberland, BC. He has worked for many heli, snowcat and ski touring lodges across BC and the Rockies over the last 15 years. His favourite parts of guiding are the opportunity to facilitate unique experiences for his guests, and exploring new terrain (which he is doing right now in our lovely Island Alps). In a previous life Joe was a professional mountain bike athlete travelling the world with his bike, riding in far flung locales for photo shoots and competitions including the Red Bull Rampage, which he competed in three times. Joe has a business degree with a marketing communications focus and when not guiding he works in digital marketing, managing teams designing and developing websites.

Ryan Shelly

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Ryan is an experienced sledder, the president and a professional avalanche forecaster for the Vancouver Island Avalanche Centre, and an avalanche forecaster for Industry operations in Canada. He is also a school teacher. He has been working as an avalanche skills instructor for snowmobilers and skiers since 2010. For many years now Ryan has worked in conjunction with Avalanche Canada, the Canadian Avalanche Association, and other partners to bring much needed avalanche education to sledders in northern Alberta and northern British Columbia. He now makes his home in Cumberland and teaches avalanche skills training courses for IAG.

Brianna Coates

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Brianna was born and raised on Vancouver Island and has developed a deep appreciation for the Island Alps over the last 10 years. She is an ACMG Apprentice Hiking Guide, CSIA Level 1 Ski Instructor, and has her CAA Level 1. Brianna thrives on helping create transformational experiences for her students and clients in an outdoor setting. She works as an instructor for West Coast Adventure College, specializing in land-based navigation and leadership, and as a instructor for Yamnuska Mountain Adventures in their Rocky Mountain Cadet Program. Much of her outdoor work is education based, working with youth in schools and extracurricular programs, teaching them a variety of outdoor skills. She is a long time volunteer with the Alpine Club of Canada and volunteered for 7 years with Juan De Fuca Search and Rescue. When she is not guiding she planning her next climbing or skiing adventure.

Niko Weis


Since 1985 Niko has provided avalanche education in the US, Canada and internationally. He is a Professional Member of the Canadian Avalanche Association. Over the years Niko has stood out as an innovator in avalanche education in North America. Niko Specializes in Avalanche Search and Rescue Courses, courses for members and leaders of the BC Provincial Emergency Program and snowmobile specific courses. He’s also worked with IAG in developing curriculum and delivering avalanche training for Canadian Airforce search and rescue technicians.

Meaghan Buisson

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Meaghan is an apprentice ACMG hiking guide. Prior to joining Island Alpine Guides, Meaghan spent a decade with the Canadian Inline Speed Skating National Team. The first Canadian to race professionally on the World Cup circuit, her athletic accomplishments include 16 Canadian records, 11 international podium finishes and a world record in the solo marathon time trial. Now a professional hiking and paddling guide, she is passionate about supporting others through journeys of discovery in wild spaces. Meaghan works in the North American Rockies, British Columbia’s Coastal Mountains and off the West Coast of Vancouver Island. With a degree in Biological and Life Sciences, her kaleidoscopic knowledge spans medical plants to wildlife ecology. When not guiding, she speaks and writes primarily about medicine and health care.

Alexandra Dubois

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Alex has a diploma in Adventure Tourism, has guided canoe and backpacking in the Yukon and instructed snowboarding, mountain biking and climbing, around the world. She has also worked as a ski patroller, and as a tail guide for ski touring and cat skiing operations. Alex is a member of the Canadian Avalanche Association, a prolific recreational ski tourer and currently works as one of our AST instructors while also studying massage therapy in Victoria. She loves helping people learn how to be more self-reliant in the mountains.

Nathan Seal

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Nate comes to the IAG team as an experienced military mountaineering instructor; having spent 10 years teaching and leading in the mountains with the Canadian Forces. Currently he is a professional Search and Rescue Technician, residing in the Comox Valley. Nate is one of three Canadian Forces search and rescue technicians who is fully certified as an avalanche forecaster in Canada. He is a Primary Care Paramedic, and also works at a Cat Skiing Operation for a couple of weeks each winter. He is a CSIA ski instructor and one of our AST course instructors. He enjoys teaching motivated people the skills to building safer and more enjoyable experiences in the mountains.

Alex Neubauer

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Alex loves moving through the mountains any way he can. He is one of three Canadian Forces search and rescue technicians who is fully certified as an avalanche forecaster in Canada. He is passionate about teaching, and all things mountain related. With IAG Alex teaches avalanche skills training as well as navigation and wilderness survival courses. He also teaches at the Royal Canadian Air Force school of search and rescue where where he trains Search and Rescue Technicians in various disciplines from medical skills to parachuting. A self-professed renaissance man, Alex is always looking for the next thing to learn.

Tim Plante

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Tim is a French Canadian expat who has been living in BC since 2014. He graduated from the Outdoor Leadership Program at Columbia Bible College in 2016.
He currently works as an Avalanche Technician for Mount Washington in the winters and as a grizzly bear guide in the summers. He is an avid outdoor enthusiast who has been climbing and skiing as long as he can remember. He has climbed and skied in Norway, Sweden, France, Italy, Nepal, and most of the states as well as extensively in Canada. He'd describe himself as "a young outdoor professional learning the ropes, working through the levels and hopeful to have a successful guiding career'. You'll meet Tim teaching some of our AST1 courses.

Bill Phipps


Bill loves to ski and climb. His passion for the mountains has been guiding his life from an early age. He is a professional avalanche forecaster at Mount Washington and the Vancouver Island Avalanche Centre, has a teaching degree and is an instructor with the Canadian Outdoor Leadership Training program at Strathcona Park Lodge. His love of the mountains and snow, a solid understanding of the avalanche game, and a well developed set of skills gained from decades of teaching make him an exceptional Avalanche Skills Training instructor. Bill is also a member of the Canadian Ski Guides Association and spends part of his winters with Cat and Heli Skiing operations.

Klemen Mali

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Klemen was born in Kamnik, Slovenia. Growing up in the Alps, he started skiing and hiking as soon as he could walk. He has achieved many first accents in the Slovenian Alps. Motivated by his desire to travel he has climbed around the world: Alaska, Canada, South America's Andes and the Karakoram of Pakistan. Shifting his focus to teaching, he became a certified IFMGA Mountain Guide in 2006. His hobbies include developing new climbing areas, travelling and photography. He is trilingual, speaking English, Spanish and Slovenian.

Scott Ballhorn

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For the past 16 years Scott has been combining his passion for self propelled adventures in the outdoors as a guide and outdoor educator with work as a marketer, developing websites and online content. Scott is also a SAR volunteer for Campbell River and Comox Valley where he is on the rope, swiftwater, mountain, ground and avalanche teams. In 2010 Scott moved to Vancouver Island to work at Strathcona Park Lodge where he was an outdoor educator for school groups and the Canadian Outdoor Leadership Training (COLT) program, guide for tourists and their resident marketer. In the winter time you can find Scott at Mount Washington where he works as a Ski Patroller. Ever since landing on Vancouver Island Scott hasn't looked back and couldn't imagine living anywhere else in the world.

Janna Rist

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Janna works behind the scenes to ensure the smooth running of the IAG office. Originally from the U.K. she now calls Cumberland home. In a previous life Janna worked in exotic locales as a conservation biologist, on the west coast as a kayaking and hiking guide and most recently as a paramedic. She is a dog training nerd, and so when not steering the IAG ship she can be found training her working lab pup Rudy, mountain biking or volunteering for Search and Rescue.

Merlin Neuspiel

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Merlin (AKA Puppy Wuppy) is the real boss of IAG. His roles include greeting guests, eating treats and getting tummy rubs. When not overseeing the IAG office Merlin can be found taking his favourite human, Jan, on long mountain bike rides.